Joel Embiid Injury Could Help Utah Jazz in NBA Draft

By Ryan Aston

Since the NBA Draft Lottery last month, Utah Jazz fans have been abuzz with talk of possibly trading up in the 2014 NBA Draft. However, with players like Joel EmbiidAndrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker being placed on a higher tier than other prospects, the ability to complete such a trade has seemed unlikely.

With news breaking that Embiid has suffered a stress fracture in his foot, the landscape of this year’s draft has changed significantly. This shift could greatly impact the Jazz.

Standing at the fifth pick in a draft that, by most accounts, features four players with superstar potential, Utah was probably not going to be able to acquire one of those pieces initially. Embiid’s injury probably makes it even less likely that a player like Dante Exum could slide to them at the five spot. That said, there is a scenario where the new questions surrounding Embiid could potentially improve Utah’s ability to make a trade that gets them closer to the top of the selection process. It involves making some assumptions and following rumors, but bear with me.

The Cleveland Cavaliers have been rumored to favor Embiid with the top pick. The injury could sway them toward taking Wiggins instead. This could disrupt the Milwaukee Bucks at No. 2, as some have claimed that Wiggins is their guy. If this is the case and the Bucks are left with Parker and Exum on the board, it could open the door for the Jazz to make the kind of trade that once seemed impossible.

In a conversation with Jazz  radio play-by-play man David Locke, Chad Ford opined that a hypothetical swapping of picks, as well as Derrick Favors from Utah and Larry Sanders from the Bucks, could be the kind of trade that the Jazz may look to make if they want to advance their draft position.

Should the Bucks’ prime target be off the board when they’re on the clock with the second pick, it stands to reason that they could pull the trigger on a move like this. It nets them a young, stable big like Favors, who is on a reasonable contract, while keeping them in play for one of the talented, second-tier prospects in the draft.  This would afford Utah the chance to select Parker, a favorite of many Jazz fans, or even Exum, who may have been off the table otherwise.

In all likelihood, moving their top pick for a higher one remains a slim possibility at best for the Jazz. However, in a league where the Cavs took Anthony Bennett with the No. 1 pick, anything is possible.

Ryan Aston covers the Utah Jazz for RantSports. Follow him on Twitter @MrMaryKateOlsen or add him to your network on Google.

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